The Plett Adventure Racing Team is a quartet of endurance athletes – Drew Scott, Jeannette Wylie, Andrew Jansen van Rensburg and Pax Mosterd – who compete in adventure races across the globe under the banner of the Plett Adventure Racing Team.
At Expedition Africa, an Adventure Racing World Series event, the team will again carry the Plett flag onto a global stage, representing the spirit of Plett, and the exquisite wilderness that surrounds our beautiful town.
Expedition Africa, is a grueling and exhilarating multi-day endurance event that challenges teams of four to navigate through rugged South African terrain using a variety of outdoor disciplines such as trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, and navigating which will take place from 19 – 27 October 2023 in the Eastern Cape. Racers receive a topographical map marked with checkpoints to be visited, usually in a specific order — and transitions where they switch disciplines and pick up supplies. It’s a human versus nature thing, it’s also a human versus human nature thing as racers battle both the elements and their own fatigue over days of non-stop racing. The Plett Adventure Racing Team will compete in this non-stop race against over 100 teams from across the globe, including Ecuador, Canada, the United States, Australia, The Swedish Armed Forces, Japan, South Africa, and Brazil.
The non-stop clock is kryptonite to many new adventure racers: to sleep or not to sleep? That is the question. As the clock ticks, racers need to decide whether to rest and race refreshed (while losing time) or to push through and risk making a navigation error due to exhaustion. Team members see each other at their absolute worst and best: dirty, exhausted, exhilarated and, finally, triumphant as they cross the finish line together. They rally around each other: encouraging, distracting and, in tough times, even towing each other along!
The Plett Adventure Racing Team was formed in 2016 when the Garden Route was introduced to the thrilling sport of adventure racing through Expedition Africa Knysna and Plett, and they have competed in challenges across areas like the Baviaanskloof, Namaqualand and Rodrigues Island with indomitable spirit, courage and teamwork. At this year’s Expedition Africa, the field will be tough and competition fierce as they battle not only other teams but also the elements and their own exhaustion to complete the challenge. On any given day, these are ordinary humans: three Plett business owners and a schoolteacher. However on weekends, after hours and, especially during Expedition Africa, the Plett Adventure Racing Team becomes something else: pioneers, navigators, and explorers who have used Plett’s trails, waterways and roads as their training grounds.
As founding team member, Petrus Maree explains, “None of us are professional or full-time athletes, we’re more weekend warriors. We fit training in before and after work – sometimes not in the greatest weather conditions…but we get out.” On this note, he adds: “It’s not always easy juggling family life, work and personal goals but it’s also that which makes the reward so much bigger at the end if we complete this massive challenge.” The team has trained and raced throughout the year, choosing strategic endurance events that will enable them to bond and work together during the World Series race to come. Locally, the team tries to link up as much as possible during longer rides and runs or treks including firm favourites Nature’s Valley, MTO Trails, Tsitsikamma, Harkerville and, of course, Robberg Nature Reserve.
Plett is in an enviable position when it comes to training grounds: rivers that have cut deep canyons into the countryside, a dramatic coastline, vast forests, lakes, lagoons and mountains forming an incredible location alongside the Indian Ocean. For Plett’s community of adventure racers, their training grounds are our oceans, forest hikes and mountain-bike trails. The Garden Route offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, offering trails both long and short enough for fitness fanatics and nature-lovers to explore something new every week. For mountain-bikers, Plett has hundreds of kilometres of scenic trails ranging from easy to double black diamond, and now offers the world’s first Green Flag MTB trails in the world. Trail runners can explore the Nature’s Valley network and Harkerville coastal trails, while paddlers will find both our rivers and our bay a delight of fresh sea air and marine sightings.
Those new to the area can install the new Plett Trails App which provides essential trail information from Harkerville in the west to Tsitsikamma in the east. The app, which boasts 280 km along 29 trails, 16 of which are of international Green Flag status. With easy access to Knysna to the west and Tsitsikamma to the east, Plett is a paradise for adventure racers-in-training. Need to practice rope work? We have canyons. Need to work on your paddling? The bay is ready for you. Need to up your endurance? We have kilometres of beaches to test you. Plett has trail options from forest to fynbos, from rocky coastline to sandy beach. Once the workday or workweek is over, Plett’s adventurers ‘suit up’ to immerse themselves in our marvellous outdoor universe.
“It’s an honour to support these four dynamic and courageous adventure racers. They have been fantastic ambassadors for the area and continue to promote and encourage adventure lovers to visit Plett,” explains Plett Tourism CEO, Patty Butterworth. “Throughout the year they fly the ‘Plett it’s a feeling’ flag as they train on local trails and mountain bike tracks from Tsitsikamma to George; and as they participate in the many adventure races throughout South Africa, and occasionally even overseas.” Expedition Africa is particularly engaging due to teams wearing tracking devices, allowing spectators from all over the world to track their progress live throughout the race. Spectators, called “dot watchers”, may spend hours watching their team’s progress and viewing photos and videos from the race on social media.
Once the race begins, spectators will be able to live-track their teams at expafrica.net/live-tracking.
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- Promo video for Expedition Africa – Eastern Cape 2023